BEST STORIES

I guess I have enough stories blogged so that I can nudge the reader to those of interest. I try to put some humor in all my stories.                                                                            

Le gout de bonheur! And lots of it.

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HUMOROUS NONFICTION STORIES:

ACCIDENT PRONE (GREAT CHARACTERS I HAVE KNOWN (DAGUE’S STORY) The funniest story, and my favorite piece of writing. In my opinion just a wonderful tight little story.

ONE DAY HONEY, THE NEXT DAY ONIONS (GREGORY  “GROMO” ALEX’S STORY)  A very funny story about a unique and wonderful human being who has now passed on. I wrote this story long before I knew of Gromo’s passing and without knowledge of his heroic efforts to save lives in Rwanda, for which he was awarded for valor by the UNDP. This story reflects a happier time.

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CAMEROON VACATION (A STUDY IN COMMUNICATION)  A light-hearted look at the wonder of language in Chad and Cameroon. I love words, phrases, and proverbs, always have. There is not a serious bone in this story’s body.

YOU CAN’T FLY WITH BEER SUDS ON YOUR WINGS  A few funny stories built around the theme of culture shock. It concludes with an hilarious New Years Eve in Chad story.

WHAT LIES BEYOND BEING BORED TO DEATH A favorite humorous story about my early PCV experiences in southern Chad.

THE WISE FROG DOESN’T PLAY IN HOT WATER  A humorous recounting of a six month period in Chad and northern Cameroon in early to mid 1979 right after the end of my Peace Corps Service.. The always hilarious USAID bureaucracy is a focus. Also the story contains a couple of paragraphs of tribute to a true Chad legend. Thanks to Greg Greenwood for the David Girven photo. RIP David.

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OLD FRIENDS, OLD STORIES, AND A FEW BELLY LAUGHS  A collection of mostly funny stories covering the period from high school on Johns Island until a couple years after college.

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SABIT NAIM (A STUDY IN DECEPTIVE APPEARANCES)  I still laugh when I read this. I guess this is my “Life is like a box of chocolates.” story. I’ve been blessed by living a good chunk of my life in two highly eccentric places, Charleston and Chad. I wouldn’t have wished it otherwise.

MAMA’S PLACE  A misplaced scene from a Fellini movie. That was one of the great things about Chad. You’d look around and suddenly realize that you were in a very different place, like alien other worldly different, three moons in the sky and pink trees different.

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A FEW AMUSING GUINEA VIGNETTES Some fun and/or interesting flash stories about my three years in Guinea, including my Dr. Strangelove  moment — a personal favorite.

THE DOGS BARK BUT THE CARAVAN MOVES ON (INTERESTING CHARACTERS I HAVE KNOWN — USAID BOSSES) A piece focusing on two of my favorite USAID Directors, one of whom is one of the most eccentric characters I have ever met.

HISTORY:

WAR STORIES  Here I recount some of my dangerous experiences in Chad. To give the reader some sense of it all, I felt I needed to discuss a bit of African history, colonialism, and the racial and ethnic undercurrents in Chadian society. I have no pretensions that I understand the complexities of these matters, but it would have rendered my experiences superficial and confusing to the reader not to have put them in historical context as I understood it during my nearly five years as a Peace Corps Volunteer and then USAID contract employee there.  And yes even here there is some humor. I just can’t help myself.

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INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY AT IT’S MOST ABSURD (SEKOU TOURE’S FUNERA)  This is really a broader retrospective on my years in Guinea, which uses this hilarious example of “international diplomacy at its most absurd” as a focus. (Thanks for the line Agma)

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DETENTE (OR JIMMY CARTER, CHESS, AND VODKA)  A slice of history at the beginning of the Carter Administration, and an interesting and entertaining look at The Cold War from the perspective of Chad. It is also a tribute to an old friend who has passed on.

THE ZEN OF WATER WELL DRILLING IN THE SAHARA  I felt compelled to do a piece that described in some detail what I actually did as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chad, as a complement to all my other stories. The mechanical and technical stuff might be a bit dry if you are not interested in trucks driving up sand dunes or drilling water wells, but then who isn’t. Nevertheless there is enough humor and culturally poignant story lines to keep the interest of the reader. This story depicts the Chadian Sahel and the people living there with more clarity and detail than anything else I have written. It was important to me to inscribe in history an admittedly biased portrait of that fascinating and unique Peace Corps program.

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MY OWN LITTLE GHOST STORY  Not a lot of humor in this one. It is a piece of personal history that ends with a real ghost story.

MY STUMBLES THROUGH THE SIXTIES AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA  The title says it all. I tried to capture the inconsistencies, contradictions, and foreignness of a very curious era in the deep south. Personally I prefer the light humorous stuff, but this has proven to be my most popular single story.

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PHIL OCHS, THE UFO COFFEE HOUSE, AND ME  This story overlaps a bit with my story on the sixties. It is meant to remind the reader that free speech in America has always come under siege by those in positions of power whenever they have felt it advantageous to do so. Nothing is guaranteed. Also the story touches on the tragic life of a true American icon, as well as depicting an ephemeral subculture in what I hope is a loving and amusing way.

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NATURE:

BOTANY ISLAND  A nostagic trip back to a magically beautiful place. A story about fishing and friends in a never never land setting. When my mind wanders back there I become young again and I feel the surf tugging at my thighs.

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MY WILDLIFE ADVENTURES (OR GOOD NIGHT RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE WHEREVER YOU ARE)  I was incredibly fortunate to visit and spend time in many wonderful gameparks, often while being paid to do so. Those memories are treasured. Here I share a few of the best ones.

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MY CONTINUING WILDLIFE ADVENTURES IN CAMEROON AND BENIN  There is a good bit of humor in this one.

FABLES:

THE ELEPHANT AND THE SONGBIRD (AN ORIGINAL AFRICAN FABLE)  A lifelong love of myths and fables led me to try my hand at this one. It was inspired by Congolese folktales. It is written at a level that makes it accessible to children, although the writing is not overly simplified. Adults seem to like it too. I love it. It is one of my favotites.

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THE LEOPARD, THE TORTOISE, AND THE GAZELLE (AN ORIGINAL AFRICAN FABLE)  Another fable inspired by Congolese folktales that were preserved by Jesuit priests. Unlike the conversion centered focus of most missionaries, the Jesuits seemed to appreciate and often worked to preserve the cultures where they worked, at least in my experience. The ones that I have encountered, living or through the writings that they left behind, had a palpable love of knowledge.

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IDRIS AND THE RIVER PEOPLE (AN ORIGINAL AFRICAN FABLE)  This story is based on my admittedly superficial knowledge of the people, history, customs, and folklore of Chad, acquired mostly through osmosis over five years living and working there. I’m sure that a native Chadian, especially someone from the Bagirmi tribe, could poke a few holes in it, but I would hope that she/he would appreciate my affection for the peoples of Chad also.

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LILOMBO AND NKUMBA (A TRADITIONAL CONGOLESE FABLE)  One of the authenic Lingala fables assembled by Pere Paul Lepoutre. The old fashioned and therefore difficult to translate Lingala presented a problem that was solved by Stan Hotalen who has spent most of his life in the Congo.

MAGAWA THE EVIL SORCERER (AN ORIGINAL AFRICAN FABLE) A mix of mythologies with an African theme. It was inspired by the stories I heard in Chad as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

THE TORTOISE AND THE EAGLE (A TRADITIONAL CONGOLESE FABLE)  This is one of the traditional fables translated from Lingala. I struggled with this one. Too much violence marred the story for a modern audience. I edited out the purely gratuitous violence and kept the violence that was germane. I believe that the story line and intent remain intact.

HOW THE DOLPHINS LEARNED A NEW WAY TO FISH (A LOW COUNTRY FABLE) A cute little story utilizing the animals and marshes of the sea islands south of Charleston.

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THE PECULIAR SQUIRRELS OF JOHNS ISLAND (A LOW COUNTRY FABLE)  Another little fable utilizing the animals and settings from my childhood.

THE METAL FORGER (A TRADITIONAL CONGOLESE FABLE)  One of the translated Lingala folktales. This one has a nice moral.

ESSAYS:

AN ESSAY ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF COMMON BEVERAGES TO INCREASING ENTROPY (NO REAL SCIENTISTS ALLOWED)  My first effort at a humorous essay. I enjoyed writing it.

THE LAST OF THE DRAWING ROOM AUTHORS, JAMES BRANCH CABELL, AMERICA’S OSCAR WILDE  One of my favorite fantasy authors, and one with a fascinating history. He deserves to be remembered.

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